Today’s issue is going to be an overview of some of my most important strategic thinking!
It’s Monday, which means it’s time to open the ol’ mailbox.
(Yes, I’ve been answering mailbox questions every day for the last two weeks, but here’s one more as we get back on schedule with Mailbox Mondays.)
Before we dive into the content, the obligatory Mailbox Monday reminder…
This weekly column NEEDS YOU to be awesome!
Send me your best questions to [email protected]. They can be on marketing, selling, copywriting, business, life, whatever…
I’ll add you to the queue, and answer your question in an upcoming email!
Okay, on to today’s question…
My name is Cyril and I’m writing from Ghana, West Africa.
Here is my question: How can I use my copywriting skills to help a Life Insurance company make more sales?
End of question. Thanks for the great work!
Hey Cyril, good to have you — and great question!
It’s always great to connect with my many readers around the globe. While the vast majority of my readers are in the US, UK, and Canada, it’s pretty cool that Breakthrough Marketing Secrets is world-famous. Nearly every country on the planet has had at least a few readers since I started these daily essays almost two years ago. (Where you at Mongolia and Greenland?!)
Anyways, I like this question because it really gets down to the heart of how useful copywriting and marketing skills can be.
I know you didn’t intend it this way, but that’s what you’re going to get. Because it’s FAR MORE VALUABLE for me to show you the strategic thinking behind it, than to give you the tactical answer to how you could increase sales in one tiny situation. Plus, the strategy is useful to anyone in any industry.
How to boost sales in nearly any business, in nearly any industry…
I’m certain there are the very occasional situation where what you’re about to hear doesn’t apply. However, it applies in far more places than it doesn’t. It’s an almost universal rule.
The secret to figuring out where you can use copywriting and marketing ability to increase sales — in Life Insurance or any other business — is to look at where they need to educate their prospects and customers and/or get them to take action. You look at each step of the sales process and customer relationship, and figure out how to use copy to move it forward.
Every place they need to use education to inform and motivate prospects and customers is an opportunity to use copy.
And in fact, in many businesses, most of this work is done by salespeople. Almost wherever you use salespeople, you can use copy and marketing. It allows you to automate that part of their job. They can focus on where they are the highest value — where customers will only move forward by talking to someone.
Let’s break down the parts of the customer relationship, and how you can use copy in each area to increase sales.
First though, a quick hat tip to Jay Abraham, and his THREE WAYS TO GROW ANY BUSINESS. Since most businesses, by default, only try to increase sales by getting new customers, it’s important to look past that.
Jay Abraham made these three ways famous (he didn’t invent them, but I learned them from them, as did many people applying them today).
First, get more customers. If all else remains equal, getting more customers leads to more sales in your business.
Second, increase transaction size. Again, if all else remains equal, if customers spend more per visit, sales go up.
Third, bring customers back more often. This means getting them to come back more frequently, or keep doing business with you for longer.
The really exciting sales increases happen when you do all three. Because they add to each other. More customers, spending more per transaction, and coming back more often adds up to exponential growth.
The following breakdown of the customer lifecycle is inspired by Infusionsoft’s Perfect Customer Lifecycle, and is a more granular way to approach Jay’s “three ways” approach.
I’ll walk you through each step of the customer lifecycle, and explain how you can use copy and marketing strategy to move more customers through that step. And, since the question was about Life Insurance, I’ll apply the generic principle to that business.
Use copy to get the attention of prospective customers…
Who is your ideal target market? What are you doing to put your message in front of them, to let them know about your business?
Are you sending them mail? Are you using print media advertising? Are you doing radio spots? Are you using the internet? What about email marketing?
Depending on your market and business economics, some or all of these strategies for proactively going out and connecting with your target market might make sense.
In each case, you have to create a compelling advertisement or piece of copy that gets the attention of your ideal customer, and presents them with something that will compel them to come to you. This might mean actually coming into your store or office, but more often than not it means going to your website, or calling.
If I’m in life insurance, I’m going to figure out the typical demographics of my target customer. It’s probably skewed toward a 45 to 65 demographic. It also probably skews more affluent.
They won’t necessarily want to know about life insurance. But they may be really interested in how to double their financial security in retirement. Or the government loophole that allows them to automatically pay off their home and protect their family if they pass away early. Or something else. You’d need to test, and base it on what you learn.
Figure out what they want, and use copy to promise it to them, in exchange for reaching out to you.
Use copy to turn more prospects into leads…
When a prospective customer reaches out to you for the benefit you promised, you need to get them to give you permission to communicate with them more in the future.
Here you use copy to reinforce the promise you made in the previous step, and ask them for their contact information.
The easier you make this, the more likely it is that more prospects will turn into leads. However, if you give them a hurdle to jump over (paying shipping on a free book, filling out a longer form, etc.), the ones who come through will probably be only the most-qualified, and those most ready to move forward.
Here you’re going to use copy on the website landing page. Or on the reply card for a direct mail piece, to convince them to request more information. You can also use copy to script the inbound call — what the person says when they answer the phone is critically important.
In life insurance, I’d work very hard to make sure, even at this point, that the person didn’t really understand that they were inquiring for more information about life insurance. It’s not the most-loved product, and you’re probably best ensuring that they’re fully convinced of the benefits BEFORE you admit that they get those benefits by buying insurance.
So, I’d reiterate the promise from the previous step, and ask them for their contact information that I need to follow up. This may just be their email address. It may be name and email. Maybe phone. If I’m doing direct mail follow-up, it would also include their mailing address.
The key here is to make it clear that they’re giving you their information so you can send them what you promised in the first step.
Use copy to better educate and nurture leads, to prepare them to buy…
Here’s where copy can really shine, and can definitely do a huge favor to any live salespeople. Or even just provide ample support for future copy and marketing messages.
Once someone has reached out to you and raised their hand to indicate that they want the benefits your product promises, you’re just getting started.
Now you need to educate them on all sorts of points to set up the sale, position yourself and your product, and set them up to make a purchasing decision.
Some of the questions you’ll want to answer here are…
— What’s the biggest problem that they have, that you have a solution to?
— What are the common challenges to finding a good solution to that problem?
— What are the hidden or little-known challenges they may also encounter?
— What are all the criteria they need to be using to judge potential solutions to that problem?
— Why are all the other solutions out there in the market inferior and invalid ways of solving the problem?
— How have you — through your product — created a superior solution that meets the buying criteria they should be using?
— Who is this solution a fit for? Who is it NOT a fit for?
— How do they know it’s going to work FOR THEM?
— What makes this a really good deal?
— Why do they need to get this solution now?
In life insurance, I’d figure out what combination of email and direct mail follow-up, as well as supporting sales collateral could be used to answer these as well as any business- or industry-specific questions related to the sale.
I’d create a follow-up campaign that used both direct answer to these questions, and customer stories and examples to demonstrate the answers.
I’d build it into the follow-up marketing used for new leads, as well as use it in materials given to the sales team and agents to help them in their direct interactions with customers.
Use copy to convert more leads into first-time customers…
Here’s where you actually turn a lead into a new customer.
At this point, if you’ve done everything right, it’s all about making an offer. And in many businesses, this step is somewhat integrated into the previous. Conversion is built into the follow-up system, so that as soon as a lead is ready to buy, they know what to do.
If you’ve done everything else right, you simply need to use copy and marketing to make sure the customer is clear on what to do to order. As well as to relieve any anxiety of the sale.
Here you ought to really pay attention to creating compelling offers, as well as guarantees and other forms of risk reversal. In both cases, what you say to present them can have a dramatic impact on sales. So find out the best way to present your offer, and your best way to present your guarantee.
In life insurance, my guess is much of the “closing” of new customers is done via one-on-one selling. In this case, I’d focus on helping my client to build a client application that made it easy for them to say yes.
What kind of materials can you create that take all the friction out of the sale?
Also, consider the agents or sales people’s script. How can you use what you know about effective copywriting to ensure they are making the best presentation going into the close?
[NOTE FROM ROY: I’m going to make the last three sections quick, for time and space concerns. That said, spending more time with them can definitely maximize your profits, so you should NOT neglect them!]
Use copy to ensure a great customer experience…
Your profit opportunity has just started once someone has bought from you once. For this reason, it’s smart to make sure they’re satisfied with their first purchase.
What are you sending them, immediately after they become a customer, to ensure satisfaction?
How are you helping them get the best use out of your product or service?
What are you doing to over-deliver, to ensure the best result?
There is a ton of opportunity, in copy, in reinforcing the purchase decision, and helping them get the best use out of their purchase.
Also, in many businesses, there’s a ton of opportunity in newsletters and other ongoing customer or client communications. These not only ensure a better customer experience, they can be used to generate more sales into the future.
Use copy to keep past customers coming back for more…
Once you have a customer, it’s far more easier to sell more things to them than to go out in search of more customers. This is where the vast majority of profits in most businesses are made.
Use copy to make more offers to your past customers. Offer one-time, high-value, high-margin items. Offer customers’-only sale opportunities. Offer continuity or subscription programs where they get a benefit every month, and you charge them monthly as well.
On a very regular basis, you can make more offers to past customers, and some percentage of them will be interested. This is a huge ongoing opportunity for copy and marketing strategy in any business — and one that’s both highly profitable and often forgotten by internal sales teams.
Use copy to encourage good customers to refer more people like them…
The final area I’ll mention is referrals. This is a great place to use copy and marketing strategies. How can you communicate to customers that their referrals are important to you, and help you create a better experience for them?
Sometimes, you ask directly. Other times, you may offer rewards. Still other times, you may simply encourage word of mouth. You almost always want to explain WHO you’re looking for in a referral. Plus, make sure you have a system in place for good communication AFTER the referral, so they’ll feel gratified and want to refer more.
There’s a ton of opportunity in any business — including life insurance!
Nearly every step of this applies in nearly every business.
The secret is the more you educate, the more you communicate with customers, the more sales you’re likely to make. And this applies to brand new leads as well as old customers who’ve done business with you for years.
While some of this communication — in some instances — requires one-on-one time (on the phone or in person), most of it can be made more efficient and scalable through good copy and marketing.
Use the above as a list of all the different places YOU can use copy to create breakthroughs for yourself and your clients!
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,